London and the British Museum

After our great day at Hadrian’s Wall, Tom and I disembarked from the Nieuw Statendam. It was the
end of our two-month cruise. We were a little sad, and it was hard saying goodbye to the crew who had
taken such good care of us. But we are ready for the next part of our trip. We are also glad to be away
from the crowds and lines that come with a cruise. We packed all of our belongings and headed down
the gangway.

We didn’t have far to go the first day. A taxi was waiting for us and we climbed in to go to the hotel in
Newcastle upon Tyne. Twenty minutes after leaving the ship we were at our destination for the day.
Originally we had planned to walk around Newcastle and see the sights, but it turns out Newcastle
doesn’t have too many of those. Instead, we packed up three bags and headed to Mailboxes Etc.

The three bags were full of all the things we didn’t want to haul with us from one hotel to another over the
next month. On the cruise ship we didn’t have to pack and unpack. For the next month, however, we
will be moving around on land. We have a lot on one night stands at hotels all over the United Kingdom.
So we want to travel as light as possible. We shipped 14 pounds of stuff home: souvenirs, yarn, clothes
we don’t need, and some books. I have more room in my suitcase now.

Once we did that, we walked to the train station a block from our hotel. We would be leaving from the
station the next morning, so we did a little reconnaissance. Then we shared a hamburger and relaxed in
our room watching BBC TV. We hadn’t watched tv since we got on the boat.

On the train to London

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel. Then we packed up -suitcases easier to zip – and
walked to the train station. We took the LNER train from Newcastle to London Charing Cross station.
The train ride was very pleasant and gave us a chance to see some of the English country. The Azuma
train travels at 125 miles per hour, so the scenery zipped by. We were in London less than three hours
after boarding the train. Every time we had a stop, the automated voice would remind us to report any
suspicious activity to the security team. “See it, say it, sort it” was their safety motto.

We grabbed a taxi and checked in at our London hotel, Thistle Marble Arch. In case that seems like a
weird name, it is the Thistle Hotel located at Marble Arch. There are a bunch of Thistle Hotels. It is very
comfortable for our two-night stay.

Once we got our bags to the room, we looked at a map and decided we had time to hit the British
Museum. It was open late the day we went and we figured 3 to 8:30 would be plenty of time. Two
hours is usually my attention-span limit at a museum. But the British Museum is one of the best in the

Pedicabs along Oxford Street

We decided to walk to the museum which would help us get oriented and give us some exercise. After
initially getting turned around a short distance, we found Oxford Street and followed it to the British
Museum. Oxford Street was an experience all by itself. It is Europe’s busiest shopping street with
500,000 people walking on it every day. The number of people was a little overwhelming. Even worse
than the crowds on the cruise ship! But we persevered and eventually reached the museum.

The British Museum

The British Museum has over eight million artifacts. It gets six million visitors a year and is the most
popular attraction in the United Kingdom. The museum was started in 1753 and has a huge collection of
items from countries around the world. You might say the items were stolen from countries around the
world. The Elgin Marbles from Greece and the Rosetta Stone from Egypt are just a few of the items that their countries of origin are requesting be returned. The British Museum has responded that they did
not steal the items, they saved them.

Rosetta Stone

Tom and I saw the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Marbles. We were most interested, however, in the
history of the United Kingdom. The earliest items on display are from 6000 BCE. We followed the
history of the country from that time up through the founding of the museum. The Roman, Anglo
Saxon, and Viking eras, and the conquest of the Normans all had their displays. We saw the Sutton Hoo and the Lewis Chessmen.  It was very interesting and the artifacts were fascinating.

Parthenon Marbles

After several hours we had absorbed as much as we could and headed back to the hotel. Oxford Street
was less crowded and we enjoyed the walk back. One half-day in London. One museum down. And two
heads ready for bed.

Tom imitating the Queen in the Lewis chess set